Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Dumbing Down of America

The dumbing down of America was a topic of interest several years ago, but today it is even more apparent the movement was a success. The latest example is Great Britain, no less, declaring the "i before e except after c" spelling rule is no longer important. Because so many people never learned, or were taught, the simple little rule about using the "ie" or "ei" combos, it was decided to let the know-nots win.

Sounds like an insignificant change in the rules, but magnified, it becomes a major philosophy of current times. Lowering standards never really helps anyone. A co-worker, Chris, asked me the other day, "What ever happened to the word 'disappear'? 'Gone missing' or 'went missing' now seem to have replaced it. Why?" I have often wondered the same thing and realized I first heard this term used by tv news anchors. Who told them to use a phrase that infers a person walked away on their own to replace one that infers a far more serious action? Our language is being changed daily as people replace one word with another, changing the meanings of both words. I've noticed many times that the person changing the meaning often didn't understand the original meaning of the word.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson

I remember when my youngest daughter was six years old and had a crush on Michael Jackson. She had a large poster of Jackson in her bedroom, the one of him in the white shirt and pants and the yellow sweater. The Thriller album was new and hot and everyone loved Michael Jackson.

His private life was exposed when all the pedophile lawsuits began to surface and his popularity began to wane. The grotesque results of countless plastic surgeries showed us a child/man who was extremely dissatisfied with his race and appearance. His story is really very tragic, and now with his death, his involvement with drugs is now evident.

I don't know why Americans, in particular but not exclusively, are so enamored of celebrity. Most of the time, the celebrities aren't the kind of people who should be lifted up onto a pedestal and nearly worshiped by average people. It's really quite sad that so many people are spending so very much time lamenting the death of a pedophile. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rules For Radicals

Well, finally, someone else is realizing that our President, a one-time community organizer in Chicago, could "possibly" have followed, and is still following, Saul Alitsky's book, Rules For Radicals. I have been saying this ever since Obama announced his candidacy for President. As a community organizer in the early 70s who was employed by the Office for Economic Opportunity, I was trained to use Rules For Radicals in the community where I worked. OEO was eliminated by President Nixon because he said it was superfluous, had no power to really help the poor and disadvantaged, and was wasting public money. It was primarily a black organization in which I was one of the 'token' white employees. I recognized some of the oratory and points Obama was making on the campaign trail, and it frightened me. No one else seemed to pick up on the similarity. Tonight, I flipped the tv onto Bill O'Reilly's show, and lo and behold! He was talking about the Obama link to Alitsky's radical left teaching. Finally, others are noticing this. Whether anyone wants to believe it or not, our fearless leader is a radical who is putting this country in danger of Socialism. Fact.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Idol and House Hunters

As usual, the final three contestants on American Idol has one surprise. I didn't think Chris would be there rather than Allison, who is a phenomenal singer at seventeen years of age. I predicted from the beginning that Adam and Danny would be the final two because they each outsang everyone else. A couple more weeks and it will be all over til next year. I love this show - I think because it gives obviously talented young people a chance they wouldn't otherwise have.

Now, if only there could be something similar for visual artists, without the age requirements, of course. At this point in my life, I have a huge amount of artwork and I need to start selling it. Not only do I need the money, but I don't want my kids to have to deal with it when I am gone. Half of them would toss it all out, while the other half will treasure it.

I have a question for the people of House Hunters: Are there really that many people who have large enough incomes to purchase all those mega-expensive homes? Or were those programs all filmed prior to the housing bust? I especially dislike the young couples who look at half-million dollar homes and proclaim the kitchens or bathrooms are out of date or ugly or just won't work. Gosh, they should have been born into an earlier generation who had to have a twenty-percent down payment and excellent credit to buy a house - all without any government assistance. People were grateful for what they had. When I look at the House Hunter International shows, I am appalled by how much people in other countries have to pay for very tiny and often ill- equipped apartments - houses seem to be totally out of reach or just not available.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trail of Tears

I was doing some research on the Cherokee Nation yesterday and today, and once again was appalled at what was done to Native Americans. The Trail of Tears that happened because it became known that gold existed on Cherokee land makes me think of the way Americans were cheated out of their life savings by Bernie Madoff and others. It is so easy to say that America has slid to the bottom of the moral heap with this latest example of greed. However, this form of immorality has existed for perhaps the entire time humans have existed on earth.

There isn't any other ethnic group that has been treated so badly in America as were the Native Americans. None.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pittsburgh Tragedy

When I turned on my tv this morning at 7:30 AM, I heard the beginning of what has become the lead story on all three major Pittsburgh television stations. A domestic call that was answered by four city policemen resulted in the deaths of three policemen and the serious injuries of two others. The 23-year old male who perpetrated the deaths and injuries used what newspeople are saying was a high-powered assault rifle. The suspect, with gunshots to his legs, was finally apprehended several hour later. What a tragedy. As the granddaughter of a policeman, I have always held the police in high esteem and am saddened when others do not.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Ghosts of Slippery Rock University

As I wrote at the beginning of March, a team of investigators of paranormal activity spent an overnight in Miller Auditorium at Slippery Rock University in search of ghostly activity. Today a local paper reported the team has evidence of 4 ghosts who apparently hang around the stage and dressing room. So to all the SRU students who heard the legend over the years, it looks as if the haunted auditorium isn't just a myth!

I have a daughter in grad school at SRU and she hasn't heard about the ghosts. I am a graduate of SRU, and I don't recall hearing about it. I have one grandson who recently graduated and another currently enrolled and I am wondering if they are familiar with the story.

Last week I went fishing twice and the only thing I caught was a blue gill. Trout weren't biting at all. Maybe I will try again this week. It sure was nice to be out at the lake and fishing once again. I walk there daily, unless it is raining or too cold.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Erin go bragh! My Irish policeman grandfather taught me to say this Irish greeting when I was young. Grandpa was perhaps the most dependable, kind, and loving man I have ever known. Grandpa loved St. Patrick's Day, and had a kelly green corduroy shirt he wore only on this holiday. As was common in the old days, grandparents taught grandchildren all sorts of things through conversation. Whether it was family history or historical world events, my grandparents shared this information with my brother, Bill, and I. Grandpa told me the names of his grandparents who came from County Donegal, Ireland, as well as the names of other ancestors and relatives. Apparently, these Irish ancestors came to America prior to the Great Famine.

As I have mentioned before, Grandpa loved to fish. Normally, he and his brother John fished in the Allegheny River near New Kensington, PA. He also enjoyed going to my uncle's hunting and fishing camp on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. The only time I have fished in Canada was trolling in a boat with my grandfather. Maybe that is why I love to fish today - good memories of a really good man.

Grandpa also loved playing cards, especially cribbage, and he would attempt to entice any visitor to play a game with him. The only times I know of that Grandpa indulged in alcohol were at the Elk's Christmas party and the times when the whole family gathered to play cards. I never saw him drunk, only a little "happy".

My brothers and I were his only natural grandchildren (were the others unnatural??) and he often did little things that showed us that we were special to him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Last year, fishermen of the Alle-Kiski Valley were asked to give fish from the Allegheny River to environmentalists of the Allegheny Township Environmental Advisory Council. This group wanted to study the possibility of toxic elements in the river, as so many industries have dumped waste products into the Allegheny. Their results show very high levels of selenium and mercury in the river, particularly in the Kittanning/Ford City portion of the river. Expectations were that the levels of these materials would be highest in the Pittsburgh area, but that has been found to not be the case. Tomorrow evening, March 16, the results of this study will be presented to the public at the Allegheny Township Environmental Advisory Council meeting. I plan to attend, even though I haven't fished the Allegheny in years. I would like to fish there one day, and would like to know if the catch would be safe for human consumption.

With the weather moderating each week, I am walking once again. The excess weight gathered to my bones over the very cold winter months needs to be shed prior to hot weather, and walking seems the quickest way to do that short of starvation.

As I type this, I am watching a series of tv programs on China. Fascinating. This very old culture, one which I have always believed pre-dated those labeled "ancient" by Western civilization, has levels of sophistication never matched in other old cultures. Not being an anthropologist, I venture to say the Chinese culture is perhaps the oldest in the world, not Africa as some folks are currently saying. Tell me if you have concrete evidence to the contrary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Appliance Repair Lady

I wanna hear three cheers for this old lady! After being without my clothes dryer since I moved in November, I decided something needed to be done before the weather gets hot and humid. I surely don't want to have wet clothes hanging indoors in warm weather. The first thing I did was call a local appliance parts and service company to get some prices. The cost of the part was quoted at $15, and the cost of having a repairman come out and fix the dryer was $125. No question as to what I was going to do! I bought the part.

When I began to remove the old part, the nuts wouldn't come loose, so I blasted them with WD-40 and when that didn't work, I tried PB Blaster. Nothing. I didn't have nut drivers, so I was using pliers to try and loosen the nuts. I finally gave up and went to K-Mart and bought a nut driver set that cost me about $25.

When I came home, I blasted the nuts again and then tried the nut driver and after a while, they came loose. One of the wires had burnt off, so I used one of those connectors that you heat with a lighter til the plastic and metal melts and fuses the wire to the connector. I began to reattach all the wires to the new terminal block, but then discovered one nut was gone. I went to my tool box and found a couple of nuts and tried them, but they were either too small or too big. So off I went again, this time to the hardware store. I bought new connectors that were heavy duty because I was worried the one I had attached might not be heavy enough. I also searched for brass nuts. I felt incredibly stupid having to ask how you found the right size (I had one from the dryer with me). Turned out it was simple to get the right ones.

I came home and attached the new connector and began to reassemble everything. I then attached the dryer vent, plugged in the dryer, put in some towels, and turned it on. Then I waited to see if anything caught fire. So far, all seems ok and I finally have a dryer again.

I decided that if my brothers all all good at doing this kind of stuff and if intelligence runs in families, then there isn't any reason that I can't learn to do what they can do, within reason. You must remember that I do not enjoy doing mechanical things. However, without a husband or boyfriend or willing friend who wants nothing in return (if you know what I mean), getting things fixed is a real problem for women who cannot afford to pay a man to come and fix something.

Incidentally, was my work worth the $85 I saved doing it myself? You bet your sweet bippee it was. From now on, I demand to make as much money as a man makes! Even those without degrees make a lot more than I do, so I want some equality here.

Needless to say, I am quite proud of myself. And I have a nut driver set ready for the next project.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I just finished reading an article in a local paper that reports the investigation of the alleged ghost(s) in Slippery Rock University's Miller Auditorium. It seems unexplainable things happen there, though I don't recall any while I was a student. A paranormal research group from northern PA spent Saturday night collecting data using all manner of equipment to detect that which cannot be seen or heard by most human eyes. Reportedly, a 14-year old psychic accompanying the group saw several apparitions, including a tall man with dark hair sitting in a front row seat of the auditorium. The group claims it will take several weeks to analyze the data. It will be interesting to see the results.

Winter has a stronghold on western PA. Sub-zero temps the past few days makes it seem as though spring will never come. At least we didn't get the heavy snows the coast received. Warmer temps are forecast for the weekend, and I will be one happy woman if that happens.

Was anyone else as disturbed by The Bachelor's final night as I was? I couldn't believe Jason actually broke up with Melissa on the air. How humiliating was that for her? She is a beautiful and sweet young woman and I certainly hope the best young men of American agree and go after her. I personally don't care for Molly - I don't think she really cares that much for Jason and his son, but Jason made his choice and I doubt will ever be able to get Melissa back. What is it with a second finale tonight? More surprises? Maybe he decided to go back to Deanna. I just don't like it when these reality shows with big audiences cut into other reality shows with the same audiences. Idol time should be sacrosanct.

Nuff.

Monday, March 2, 2009

SEO and Twitter and all things Networthy

It amazes and astounds me the way the Internet has changed since I first connected in 1994. It was obvious back then that anything was possible online because there was so much ROOM! I thought it would be a great way to do research but realized it took time to input a lot of data, and it did. Today a searcher can find just about anything, except for that elusive something that you need but cannot locate. Though many hours are wasted looking, the search can take you to many interesting places.

Back in those early days, the only internet providers for the average person were Prodigy, Compuserve. and AOL. I tried them all, but ended up using AOL for a few years. My youngest daughter was a teenager then, and that fact coupled with the limited number of hours one could spend online (like about 4) could, and did, spell financial disaster. Three-hundred dollars later, I put passwords on everything, including the log-in. That didn't do any good - she figured it all out. The next best thing was to disconnect the phone cord (everything was dial-up in those days) and take it with me. I was so happy when unlimited Internet use for a set monthly fee came into being!

When I began to do freelance writing online, I found I had an information deficit. SEO, keywords, social networking - all those terms were new to me, and I am still trying to figure them out. The whole concept of social networking seems to be lacking in substance to me and I suppose that is because it is so different from everything I have learned in life. Kind of like what many freelancers do when writing an article. Instead of diligently researching many sources, including the READING of those sources, and making sure those sources are sound and not written by yet another careless freelancer, today's content writer seems to go the quickest route possible. The result is frequently, judging by much of what I read online, a piece with poor grammar, spelling, and incorrect information. Surely the educational system hasn't lowered standards so much that correct use of our language is no longer important. I hope not, because the written word is such an important part of communication. The purpose of punctuation, particularly the comma, is for clarification of meaning.
I suspect more than a few English teachers were a bit weak on grammar rules and the result was several generations of high school graduates who didn't know the rules. How sad. That said, mea culpa for any errors I have made here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I started a new website, one that will be primarily about art. Hopefully, it won't take me too very long to get it up and running.

Until then, I am still doing freelance writing. I enjoy working on my own schedule, not someone else's. Of course, artwork is always in progress at my house. Currently, I am working on a pastel portrait and some pencil drawings.

After not doing much cooking or baking for the past ten years, I have been inspired by The Food Network to do some experimenting again. The bad part about it is that I eat what I make, and that can be a bad thing for a diabetic! I think my new kitchen inspires me, too. It is so easy to work in there. I have a lot of herb seeds that have germinated and I can't wait to get them planted outdoors. After they grow a bit, I won't have to buy fresh herbs for awhile. There is nothing better, in my opinion, than fresh basil and fresh dill in a salad. Or the basil in anything and everything!

Finally, the winter weather is moderating and the temps are hovering in the 40's and low 50's during the day. Hope the trend continues because I am wanting to be out fishing! It seems like a long time since I cast a line into the water. In fact, this winter seems to have gone on forever. It is the Lenten season again, so fish on Fridays is the rule in my house. I will finish up some of the trout still in my freezer from last year. Hope it is still good.

I miss my kids and grandkids. None of them have seen my new house.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Herbs

My first indoor plantings of basil, dill, cilantro, and parsley are all from 1" - 3" tall, and as soon as the secondary leaves appear, I will thin them out. Today, I planted more dill, plus chives and sweet marjoram. Tomorrow, I will plant some more. I can't wait until it is warm enough to start planting outdoors. I love my new house and am excited about planting herbs and flowers that will just make it look more beautiful outside. Many of the perennials I want to plant I will get at a garden shop, probably in April. Today, I looked at the agricultural supply store on River Road, but they didn't have any herb seeds. I will probably have to buy the rest of my herbs as established plants.

The cold weather seems to have settled into SW PA again, and the forecasts show 40 degree highs. Of course, that is better than the 0 or 10 degree highs! When can I fish again? (I can technically fish now, but it is too cold for me.)

Comcast Cable sent out someone on Monday to see what was wrong with my cable tv hookups. The DVD and VCR players didn't work, nor did the volume controls on my remote. The guy they sent did a great job, and took the time to explain how to use everything. Comcast is different from Armstrong and Adelphia were, and is more complicated when using DVD and VCR players. Anyway, the DVD player works great. When I tried the VCR, however, there was a tape stuck in it from goodness knows how long ago. It finally came out, but now the tapes won't stay in. The little door won't come down. Rats. My stuff is getting old just like I am, and I wish I knew how to fix everything. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have gone to college but rather, would have gone to a tech school and learned how to do all this stuff.

New disappointment of the day: Consumer Reports says their tests on wrinkle creams prove they don't work.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Yuk....It's Valentine's Day Again

My last post talked about the Spring Tease, and it was. Today we have snow flurries after several days of extremely high winds....hurricane force not far from here. I came home from shopping a while ago and walked down the road to recapture the lid to my garbage can. I'm glad it is red because it is easy to see.

I thought my drug store was closed because the front door was boarded up. It wasn't closed, but the glass had been broken by a would-be thief, would-be because he/she didn't get anything. The world has changed in more ways than one.

A year ago yesterday, someone I loved told me goodbye. Two days before Valentine's Day. So now I hate this day of hearts and roses and chocolate. I hate being unloved and alone. I look around and see lots of women who don't look so hot with men who do. Go figure. I have come to the conclusion that men want ugly, fat, stupid, untalented, and uneducated women. That leaves me out in a couple of ways. (You figure out which ways.) I used to think younger was one of those qualifiers, but it doesn't seem to be. Everything I am is not wanted by anyone. I know, I am singing the 'pity me' song. Sorry, but that's how I feel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Springtime or Just a Tease?

Last year, March is southwestern Pennsylvania was beautiful with warmer than usual temperatures and early blooming of plants. Today the temperature is almost sixty degrees following last week's wind chills of seven degrees. I realize it is still the middle of February and cold weather is forecast for the last week of this month, but these occasional hints of spring perk up the spirit and remind us of nature's cyclical renewal.

When I went to sleep last Saturday night, some of the snow had melted but there was still quite a lot of it on the ground and on the driveway. When I looked outside Sunday morning, I couldn't believe my eyes! All the snow, ALL of it, was gone. Amazing. Today I was outside looking for early spring plants beginning to peek out, but there aren't any yet. It could be the prior tenants didn't plant anything, or it could just be too early.

I planted some herbs in small pots a couple of weeks ago, covered them with sandwich-size plastic bags, and watered them daily. They are all sprouted and growing. When the soil is warm enough and all danger of frost is gone, they will be ready to plant outside. Today, I will go and buy some more potting soil and plant some more seeds. I can't wait to start working outdoors and caring for my herbs and flowers again. I also cannot wait to go fishing!!!



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Art For Sale

I am going to be showing and offering for sale some of my pencil artwork. You will be able to see current pieces to the right under "My Art of the Day". Prices do not include framing, although that can be arranged at an additional fee. Please know I hold the copyrights on all my artwork.

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